My Journey With Food : Part 1

Food.  I am a lover of food.  My whole family enjoys food. We love to sit down at the table together- laughing, eating and talking about our day.  This of course occurs on a good day.  A lucky day.  Because I argue I mean discuss alternative viewpoints with my kids over food choices just like most American people.  I want them to enjoy what they are eating while ensuring it nourishes their health simultaneously.  Guess what?  They don’t care if their health is being nourished.  They just care if it tastes good. And so I spend most of my time learning what works with each family member and combining that into one meal we all can sink our teeth into.  I am telling you: this is no small feat.

And this is the paradox of my life.  The girl who refused to learn how to cook as a teen; the girl who rejected anything having to do with domesticity; the girl who ran from the slightest hint of female stereotypes now finds herself as a stay-at-home mother writing about food and feeding her children.  Isn’t life strange?

Growing up I didn’t think twice about food.  I ate what my mother prepared.  I made no connection between what I put in my mouth and how I felt.  I ate when I was hungry and stopped when I was full.  I liked food.  I enjoyed eating but the only thing I knew about food was if I ate too much I would be overweight and if I ate too little I would be underweight. As a nurse, my mother had her own ideas about health so we never ate red meat and we drank only skim milk.  We avoided fat like the plague and snacked on, well, Snackwell’s.  Fruit and vegetables were part of our daily diet.  They were sandwiched between cinnamon Pop-tarts, Lucky Charms and fancy frozen meals from the Schwan man. Boy, did I love seeing his truck pull down the driveway.  Did anybody else love those chicken pot pies?

I thought my nightly ritual of frozen yogurt was good for me because it wasn’t ice cream.  My daily intake of soda wasn’t bad because I kept it to one – at least while I was at home.  After school, I cracked those cans like it was a second job.  My point is overall I think my parents did a good job of balancing junk with nourishment and encouraging daily physical activity.  But food was an afterthought; not something that could be responsible for my headaches, acne, constant tonsillitis, a million cavities, horrendous monthly cramps, morning irritability or bouts with hypoglycemia.

It wasn’t until I moved to Boston in my early 20’s when I started to take notice of food in a way that was less about feeding my appetite and more about nourishing my appetite.  I was surrounded by friends who knew more than I did (always a plus) about cooking from scratch, international cuisine and eating in a manner that actually made you feel good, like really good.  And so my journey with food slowly evolved.  Over the last 15 years, that journey changed my life and ultimately my family’s life.  I not only look at food as a source of enjoyment but I look at food as medicine.

We can celebrate with food, socialize with food, enjoy food all the while making ourselves feel better.  It wasn’t about weight.  It wasn’t about dieting.  It was about feeling energized, satisfied, happy, and lighter even in spirit.  I no longer deal with hypoglycemia.  I am now a morning person who wakes up with a great deal of energy.  I have headaches only occasionally and I have not experienced a menstrual cramp in 10 years.  No more constant sore throats.  No prescriptions of any kind.  The cavities stopped except with a couple that moved in while nursing. The acne is gone; however, it has been replaced with the wrinkles that now creep around the edges of my face but I am okay with that because I feel good.  Actually, I feel great.  And I want you to feel the same.  I want your children to feel the same.  So my hope is in sharing my journey, it will encourage you to make similar life changes.  It is all about the choices we make…the little choices everyday that add up to a lifetime of either wellness or illness.